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The personalities and talking points at the heart of the action

Line of Reason and Joe Fanning (yellow/black hoop cap) finish fast to win at Musselburgh
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The Racing Post's course reporting team highlight the personalities behind the key Saturday stories . . .

Midgley magic

Line Of Reason's last-gasp win under Joe Fanning in the William Hill Scottish Sprint Cup at Musselburgh secured a 203-1 sprint handicap double for trainer Paul Midgley, who had earlier taken the Tartan Trophy Consolation Race with Orient Class.

Winning those £40,000 and £62,250 races provides confirmation of Midgley's expertise with sprinters, yet with the respective odds being 16-1 and 11-1, there is also evidence that the North Yorkshire trainer remains underrated.

The 2015 Epsom Dash winner Desert Law and Group 3 winner Monsieur Joe – who runs at Cork on Sunday – along with Line Of Reason, have been the fleet flagbearers for the yard for a few years now, and they have been joined this season by Final Venture and Naggers.

Line Of Reason, like Desert Law and Monsieur Joe owned by Andy Taylor, and a Listed winner at Cork in 2015, was winning off a mark of 97 on Saturday, and there could be further handicap success to come this year given his previous ability, in the Rockingham at the Curragh on July 1.

Midgley said: "He ran well at Epsom [in the Dash] but it probably didn't play to his strengths. He was rated 110 at one time and he's no worse then than he is now, we just lost him for a while.

"I did actually say to Joe before he went out that he'd win. I've known Joe for a long time and we probably don't use him as much as we should, he's a good friend."

Pricewise followers looked set to collect in the final furlong as 9-1 chance Harry Hurricane hit the front, but those who were on at the early 14-1 were denied by a neck.

Midgley added: "Joe's given him a peach. There was a strong pace, which he enjoys, and he enjoys fast ground. The second horse has helped him because he's taken him through the race, and he's got there at the right time."

No one will dethrone the late Dandy Nicholls as 'the Sprint King,' with Robert Cowell coming closest in recent years, but arguably the next man on the list is Midgley, whose Westow base is around 45 minutes from where Nicholls trained near Thirsk.

With a bit more ammunition Midgley can maintain his rise up the training ranks – and if that continues to take place under the radar, his punters will have no complaints.
Ben Hutton


Northern powerhouse

Sometimes it pays to be in the right place at the right time, just ask jockey Jimmy Sullivan.

He was riding out for Tim Easterby at Great Habton on Thursday when it was decided to run Golden Apollo in Saturday’s £100,000 handicap sprint at York following his easy win at Pontefract on Monday.

Sullivan said: "Tim's father, Peter, shouted across asking me where I was riding today. I told him I would be at York so he asked it if I could ride him."

He did, and he won, the son of Pivotal having got into the race by taking the 17th of 18 places, his rider brought him late to beat the Richard Fahey-trained The Wagon Wheel by a neck in an all-northern finish.

It has been a breakthrough year for Sullivan, who hails from West Meath, and came across from Ireland when he was 22 to join Mick Easterby and has plied his trade mostly in the north, nowadays riding the majority of the horses trained by Ruth Carr.

He added: "I've ridden quite a few winners, but mainly in small races, so when you look at the end of the week you haven't actually got that much."

That was until this year as 2017 has been going swimmingly and he has a couple of Group races to his credit thanks to the Carr-trained Sovereign Debt, who has won Group contests at Sandown and Epsom – the Diomed on Derby day – having landed the mile All-Weather Championship final at Lingfield on Good Friday.

Sullivan added: "I don't know where I'm going next week but it probably won't be Royal Ascot as Sovereign Debt isn't going there, I think there is a race for him there at the next meeting.

"He has been a great horse for me and Ruth but he doesn't want the ground too firm."
Colin Russell


Code-breaker

Flat, hurdles or fences, Ian Williams has few peers when it comes to dual-purpose performers and there was little surprise with his assessment after The Statesman made his second start for the trainer a winning one in the 1m1f handicap at Sandown.

“I’ve said to the boys today [owners Randolph and Mortimer Racing] that he’ll make a lovely hurdler but looks like he might be a nice Flat horse on the way,” said Williams, whose name is becoming a familiar fixture on Saturday racecards – Flat and jumps.

Last weekend he sent out Kapstadt to win another lucrative handicap at Newmarket and it is not inconceivable his next start could come in a novice chase.

Williams has saddled more than 1,000 winners combined under both codes and has long been a savvy placer of his horses.

However, there is little doubt that quality at his West Midlands yard is on the rise, with London Prize and Byron Flyer other dual-purpose horses he has recently excelled with. 

London Prize and Tom O'Brien (centre) get the better of Fix Le Kap (right) and Darebin
Williams said: “We might enter London Prize in the Queen Alexandra Stakes next Saturday but he’s nicely handicapped for the consolation race for the Northumberland Plate. Byron Flyer is another nicely handicapped for that race. 

Williams’ best chance of a Royal Ascot winner next week could well be Speedo Boy in the Hampton Court Stakes on Thursday, the horse having split Permian and Khalidi last time, with man of the moment Silvestre de Sousa booked to ride.    

Another royal meeting contender could be Wolfcatcher in Tuesday’s Ascot Stakes, whose prep came over hurdles at Worcester earlier in the month. Don't knock it!
Lewis Porteous


Joy for Joseph

Bath would not be most people’s first guess to the quiz question: ‘Where did Joseph O’Brien train his first Flat winner in Britain?’

But that is the correct answer after Lynn’s Memory landed the 5f novice stakes on Saturday under Jimmy Quinn.

It was an intriguing bit of placing from the young trainer, for whom the filly was his tenth runner on the level in Britain.

O’Brien has yet to strike over jumps in Britain from eight runners, but if this whets his appetite he could become a more regular visitor, and not just perhaps at tracks favoured by his colleagues in Ireland, like Perth and Ayr, but at more eclectic, lower-key venues.
Andrew King 

He was rated 110 at one time and he's no worse then than he is now, we just lost him for a while
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